Assisting in caesarean sections

I was timetabled to be in theatres all morning today to watch caesarean sections. There were two elective cases scheduled this morning and the consultant encouraged me to get stuck in to which I did not complain because I did more today in theatre than I ever have back in the UK…

As it was my first time watching a caesarean section where I was allowed to assist, I was taking more of a back seat role in the first operation where I watched the resident (registrar) assist the consultant as I would be taking on her role in the next case. Even though I have seen a C/S in the past, it was still remarkable to witness the scalpel going through each layer of the abdominal wall. The sudden appearance of amniotic fluid is then followed by a scrunched up little face looking up at us as the consultant reaches into the uterus to pull the baby out. That first cry.

When I was allowed to be the first assistant in the second case under the watchful eye of the resident, I was able to really test my ability to multitask.Never in my life had I realised just how right-handed I am when I had to cut sutures with my left hand whilst firmly holding down the uterus that was held out of the abdominal wall in order to stop the excessive bleeding.  Once we were through all the superficial layers, I assisted the consultant in ripping open the peritoneal layer which is a lot tougher than it looks! Seeing the baby’s head come out was incredible and I pushed down on the mother’s abdomen with all I had to ensure the little one was out without any further delay. I felt like I had to take a moment to take in what I was a part of and it made me realise just how much I love this specialty. The woman’s body is phenomenal. Its ability to withstand an immense amount of stress and then be able to function normally almost immediately after giving birth makes me wonder how incredible it would be to dedicate my life to women’s health.

Medical schools drill in the fear of ensuring that we do not practice skills that you are not trained to do. This is something which follows through to the rest of your career. In a way it is necessary because it ensures patient safety but there is a part of me that yearns to be able to get more practical experience before worrying about whether I am allowed to do a procedure or not. A stark difference I have seen whilst on my elective is just how much the medical students are allowed to get involved with patients. This ranges from delivering babies to assisting in theatre and suturing. It seems that I am going to be faced with a massive culture shock when I eventually start working and have to quickly stack up my ability to do certain procedures.

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